Percy E. Sutton was a prominent Harlem politician. He was a Tuskegee Airman and intelligence officer during World War II, a man pushed north by the Jim Crow diaspora, a civil rights activist jailed in the prisons of the South, and a lawyer to Malcolm X. He fought to open City University to blacks.
In time, he became a grandee in the most sophisticated and influential black political club in New York City.
And he turned himself into a businessman, some days walking from bank to bank to bank in search of loans. He became a millionaire, owner of what were at one time the city’s two most influential black radio stations, the WBLS hit-maker on FM (107.5) and the intensely, incessantly political WLIB (1190 AM).
With his pencil-thin mustache and slow-burning growl of a voice, he seemed to glory in the daily act of politics, whether shaking hands on 125th Street or telling stories to fifth graders at Public School 166 on the Upper West Side in the late ’60s.
Texas communist roots
- I appreciate what Laura Codina and the Coordinadoras of Fuerza Unida, Petra Mata and Viola Cásares, said, but in all honesty I have to say that whatever I've been able to accomplish has been built on the legacy of Communists here in San Antonio, Texas before me.
- In October of last year there was a symposium held at the Tamiment Library of New York University on "James and Esther Jackson, the American Left and the Origins of the Modern Civil Rights Movement." James Jackson was a big influence in my life. At the symposium Percy Sutton, former Manhattan borough president, spoke of his long association with and appreciation of the Jacksons. This began in San Antonio where Sutton grew up in a family of twelve, half of whom became Communists.The six Suttons; Emma Tenayuca and John Inman, both of whom were chairs of the Communist Party of Texas; Hattie Mae Inman, who raised a family and was an inspiration to others while bedridden with five types of cancer; Manuela Soliz Sager and her husband James Sager; Luisa Moreno, and many more -- these are people to whom I'm indebted. I think this honor belongs to them also. And to my wife, Jo, whose support enabled me to be involved in struggles for peace and justice.
Harlem Democratic Party
David Dinkins rose through the Democratic Party organization in Harlem and became part of an influential group of African-American politicians that included Percy Sutton, Basil Paterson, Denny Farrell, and Charles Rangel. As an investor, Dinkins was one of fifty African American investors who helped Percy Sutton found Inner City Broadcasting Corporation in 1971.
National Coalition to Fight Inflation and Unemployment
April 16, 1975, Percy Sutton, Manhattan Borough president, was on the Current List of Sponsors of the Communist Party USA front National Coalition to Fight Inflation and Unemployment.
Drastic Cutback in Military Spending
A brochure announcing a National Conference for a Drastic Cutback in Military Spending, to be held on April 5-6, 1975, at the LaSalle Hotel, Chicago, was printed by the National Conference on Military Spending Organizing Committee, of 156 Fifth Avenue, Room 716, NYC, NY, 10010. The printing Bug was that of the CPUSA's Prompt Press, 209.
Sponsors included Percy E. Sutton, Manhattan Borough President.
Jackson "Money man"
Percy Sutton was reportedly a "money man" during Jesse Jackson's 1984 run for the US Presidency.
Symposium on James and Esther Jackson
On October 28, 2006, an event entitled "James and Esther Jackson, the American Left and the Origins of the Modern Civil Rights Movement" was held at the Tamiment Library of New York University. Three panels of academics and activists delivered papers illuminating the lives of the James Jackson and his wife Esther Jackson, their co-workers and the struggles in which they participated that helped shape developments in the United States from the late 1930s to the present. Angela Davis, David Levering Lewis, Percy Sutton, Pete Seeger, Michael Nash, Jean Carey Bond, Michael Anderson, Maurice Jackson and Charlene Mitchell delivered papers and spoke at the event. Sam Webb, Debbie Amis Bell and Daniel Rubin were among the estimated 250 individuals who attended the event.
Mentored Eric Holder
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder spoke at the funeral of one of his mentors, civil rights leader Percy Sutton, January 6, 2010 at Riverside Church in New York City. Thousands mourned the legendary civil rights attorney and media owner Percy Sutton who died December 26 at the age of 89.
- ↑ NY Times, Tributes to a Father of Modern Harlem , By MICHAEL POWELL Published: January 6, 2010
- ↑ John Stanford Honored in San Antonio, Words of John Stanford upon accepting honor
- ↑ Former NYC mayors.com, Dinkins bio
- ↑ Congressional Record, "Inflation and Unemployment: The Communist Party's New Drive - Part I", April 16, 1975, Extension of Remarks, pages 10436-1-439, Rep. Larry McDonald (D-GA)
- ↑ [House Ways & Means Committee hearings on IRS Tax Reform, printed report on Illegal Lobbying written by the Council for Inter-American Security CIS, 1977. The report was submitted in lieu of testimony as CIS learned of a townhall hearing too late to get put on the live witness testimony list and was told to submit the report as their official statement]
- ↑ People's World: James and Esther Jackson: shapers of history, December 15, 2006, by Daniel Rubin (accessed on November 8, 2010)
- ↑ Eric Holder-Attorney General Of U.S. - Mr. Percy Sutton funeral: filmed by Harlem Heritage Tours